Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2021
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

A Path Less Trodden, a Risk Worth Taking - 91%

bayern, November 24th, 2016

1995 was a really weak year for the classic metal genres, both in terms of quality and quantity, and although some acts hit their peak (Blind Guardian, Solitude Aeturnus, Crowbar, Fear Factory, Death), and a few newcomers (Moonspell, Grip Inc., Korova) stirred the dormant spirits, this year had better be left alone with not much to talk about. The underground kept churning gems, though, and this was where one could find worthy music to listen to. It would take quite a bit of digging before one comes across this young trio from the sunny state of California, three ambitious lads who had no intentions of hiding their high musical proficiency from the world, and threw quite a bit at the listener on their 3-track demo “A Cleansing of the Mind” in 1993, a blistering display of intricate riff-patterns and elaborate song-structures the main source of inspiration being Helstar’s “Nosferatu” and early Fates Warning. The guys’ delivery is not as thrashy and aggressive as the one of Helstar, but in terms of complexity and progressive build-ups it by all means matches Fates Warning’s early repertoire.

Two years later the band’s one and only full-length is out, and it clearly shows from the very first chords that the guys have grown as musicians: starts the opening “Here and Now” and one can immediately detect the more expressive bass bottom reminiscent of Rob Jarzombek’s omnipotent reverberations on the Watchtower and the Spastik Ink efforts. The bassist’s exploits are met by choppy, jumpy riffwork which goes towards the labyrinthine structures of the mentioned Watchtower and the progressive metal heroes Psychotic Waltz strong resemblances with both acts also in the vocal department where the guy, the name Scott Fox, unleashes highly emotional clean tirades frequently staying within the high parametres with nice atonal escapades in the best tradition of none other than Buddy Lackey (Psychotic Waltz). The speedy build-ups from the demo are kind of missing here at this early stage, but comes “Reign of Dissonance”, the nearly 9-min masterpiece from that same demo, and the dynamics increases still “embalmed” in fairly intricate arrangements including a few balladic leanings. This is the only piece from the demo featured here, mind you, the guys following with “Behind the Mask”, another riff-fest for the thinking metalheads as the more hardened listeners may frown a bit due to the song’s semi-balladic character.

“Black Box” is a short contrasting combination between balladic and more aggressive passages, the “idyll” broken by the more intense title-track which also serves a fine portion of virtuoso, classical-prone lead guitar work, not to mention the bass acrobatics in the middle which may put to shame even Steve DiGiorgio himself. Brace yourselves for “Casting Stones”, an over 9-min long progressive opus which stomps forward officiantly not forgetting about several mazey rifforamas which may easily throw the listener in bewilderment. “Burn the Page” is more than welcome with its faster-paced, marginally more linear delivery, but expect a whirlwind of riffs and leads later on plus some really hard-hitting, bordering on thrash, semi-gallops. “Fire”, contrary to its “fiery” title, is a tender ballad predating the closer “Seasons of Madness”, a gigantic 10-min saga which twists and turns through its running time, crossing breath-taking balladisms with impetuous speedy sections the latter left for the end as an epitaph.

The overuse of quiet, lyrical moments may be a pullback to some, but the complex rhythm-section is omnipresent as well to ensure there are no napping fans, and that the progressive metal brotherhood may rest in peace without any worries that their legacy would be buried and forgotten during the “dark ages”. The decreased reliance on speed could be considered another unmitigated flaw, but hats down to the guys for being bold enough to shift from their early style into a more thought-out, more ambitious approach without completely sacrificing their roots. They nicely remind of several progressive metal behemoths by not blindly emulating either of them thus by all means winning the respect of the metal fanbase regardless of how small it was at the time.

It should come as no surprise the band’s early disappearance from the scene with nothing recorded subsequently. By the mid-90’s both Psychotic Waltz and Fates Warning had shifted considerably from their initial exploits, not to mention the painful metamorphoses experienced by Queensryche and another once promising short-lived act, Lethal. Progressive metal was brought back to the underground where grunge, alternative and groove continued the suffocation process started earlier in the decade. The three youngsters from Catharsis held no illusions as to what direction the scene was moving; they voted “No!” to the prevalent tastes, and vanished. The drummer Mike Nielsen resurfaced a few years later, and took part in the foundation of the power/speed metal masters Cage, and after his split from his comrades there settled for the modern groovy formation Dr. Chunk with only one album released (2002) under that name so far although the band is reportedly still active. However, based on the sounds made by that latter band, some may have reconsidered their disdainful attitude towards the 90’s music vogues…